Each color and design element of the CST-100 Starliner’s new Crew Flight Test (CFT) patch takes inspiration from the two NASA astronauts who will be the first to fly the Starliner to and from the International Space Station.
Each detail has special meaning to Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Pilot Sunita “Suni” Williams, who added their personal touches to the development of the patch.
The prominence of orange, for example, surrounding the Starliner spacecraft and the Atlas V rocket, is based on orange historically signifying flight testing. In fact, some refer to the color as “flight-test orange.”
“We wanted to incorporate all aspects of the CFT mission to include launch and the primary focus of the mission as being a first flight test,” Wilmore said.
The orange is also a nod to Wilmore and Williams’ experience in testing new vehicles. Both are experienced U.S. Navy aviators and test pilots, who combined have spent 11,000 hours in more than 50 aircraft, including the F/A-18 Hornet, T-45 Goshawk, H-46 Sea Knight and V-22 Osprey.
Flight patches have served for decades as iconic representations of U.S. human spaceflight programs, flight tests and missions. The patches are composed of symbols, colors and icons that represent the objectives of and significance behind each endeavor beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
Other highlights of the patch and the special meaning each element represents:
- Outline of Boeing spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will lift it to low-Earth orbit: symbolizes the future of commercial human spaceflight. Wilmore added that the outline also honors those who have been a part of the evolution of Starliner, from the original designers to those who fabricate, operate and fly.
- Blue marbling of the Earth: represents Williams’ love of the ocean and she said highlights the role of the Starliner spacecraft, Calypso, as the gateway to doing research off the planet as Jacques Cousteau’s research vessel Calypso did on Earth. Williams named the spacecraft Calypso in 2019 following the first orbital flight test.
- Full view of the International Space Station: signifies Starliner’s first destination in space and both astronauts' time as flight engineers and commanders of the orbiting laboratory.
- Side-by-side Boeing and NASA names: represents the partnership between industry and government in developing this new crew transportation system for the United States.
- Seven stars inside the patch: serve as a reminder of the astronauts who boldly traveled to space during NASA’s Mercury Program.
- Astronaut symbol between the names Wilmore and Williams: represents all who will follow in their footsteps after Starliner receives its safety certification from the agency.
“Historically mission patches have included seven stars, which signifies the history of human spaceflight, all the way back to the original Mercury 7 astronauts,” Wilmore said.